During Meditation I Feel Some Pain and Involuntary Movements


I’m regular meditation practitioner, among other things like involuntary movements and feeling of something revolving in my spine along with them, I have pain in my perineum area, although I have diagnosed with every medical test, which all were normal, still the pain is there. Why? And how to handle this? Please guide me.

—Iswaroop, India


Dear Iswaroop,

At first impression, I would say that the discomfort you are experiencing is probably not the result of meditation per se, but if it is related at all to your meditation, it is more likely connected to your sitting position. To this end, I’ve consulted my friend and Ananda Yoga trainer, Dr. Murali Venkatrao, who directs the Institute of Living Yoga here, near Seattle. He wrote back to me after reading your note with these thoughts about your sitting position for meditation:

3 possible causes come to mind:

  1. Bruised tailbone
  2. Hemorrhoids or similar
  3. The sacroiliac joint issue, which could feel like pain in the perineum area

The first two are long shots and a test would have found them anyway. Here’re some suggestions that will help assuming that it is SI-joint related:

  • Don’t sit cross-legged.
  • Sit on a chair, making sure both sit bones are in equal contact with the seat. If necessary, elevate the hips slightly (using a cushion, the knees would be below the level of the hips and feet would be flat on the floor).
  • Ensure that the sacrum/low back area is supported by the back of the chair. (Normally we sit away from the back of the chair, but in this case you may need back support.) You can roll a towel or use another cushion, wedging it between the back of the chair and the low back area. You can also of course sit back against the back of the chair, but then it may more difficult to elevate the hips. You’ll just have to experiment.

As for sitting, do you have a job where you sit most of the day? If so, your discomfort may have more to do with your sitting while at work than while at meditation.

Returning now, however, to your other symptoms such as involuntary movements and feeling a revolving motion in the spine, there could be some connection to the physical discomfort in the perineum — though I would say such a connection would be unusual — whereas the other, more subtle symptoms are not so unusual in meditation. It may be that when the more subtle symptoms occur you are responding to them by shifting your sitting posture and/or by tensing muscles in that area.

In addition then to the sitting suggestions offered above, begin to notice how your body is responding to the onset of the symptoms while meditating. It may be tensing up, even if subtly. Relaxation is the key and not reacting to movements of subtle energy, or even involuntary movements of the body, is important. If these symptoms are disturbing you, you may have to open your eyes, tense the whole body with a sharp inhalation and a long exhalation in order to “throw off” tension. You might even have to stand up and stretch — or even discontinue the meditation for that sitting.

Yoga exercises before sitting, by the way, can help relax the body. When the subtle life force energy begins to withdraw from the periphery of the body, sometimes the muscles react involuntarily as in a brief spasm. This suggests, to emphasize this again, the need for complete yet alert relaxation of the body, nervous system, and brain (mind). It might also indicate a certain level of toxicity in the tissues. Fasting, cleansing, eating a healthy diet, proper rest and exercise may be helpful here.

Well, that’s plenty for now, yes?

May the divine Light surround and protect you!
Nayaswami Hriman